Saturday
Jan052008

Drawing analogies: Server Virtualization and "Modern" Data Networks

While I don't think the analogy of VMotion = VRRP/HSRP/GLBP is quite "tight" enough, Wes Noonan makes a pretty good (and purposefully ironic) case for server consolidation = network segment isolation through VLANs. 

How virtualization was stolen from network admins | NetworkWorld.com Community

... I’m also going to prove that really all this big talk about virtualization is stuff they stole from us network admins anyway, and like usual we got none of the credit. :) 
...

Even more direct of a comparison though is the tried and true
VLAN. You have a hub/switch, but you need to have multiple subnets
running on it. In the old days, this meant buying more devices (in
those days probably hubs) and winding up with an unmanageable sprawl of
network devices. You can consolidate all of those network devices into
a smaller subset, but still keep the isolation of network segments by
simply creating a VLAN for each network segment. One switch (or at
least a subset of the original switches) while still having the same
number of subnets. This sounds strikingly similar to how you can
consolidate all those physical servers down virtual machines running on
a handful of physical servers.

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Tuesday
Dec252007

Enterprise Virtualization and the Problems of Management

For the most part, I've found the Toutvirtual posts by Schorshi overdone with respect to rant and vitriol directed at the "big guys" -- VMware, Microsoft and (to some degree) XenSource.  I suppose it's possible that what comes across to me as stage-managed outrage is an effective way to address the failings of the major VMEs and put ToutVirtual's offerings in a good light.  I don't usually find the posts enjoyable.  However, in catching up this afternoon with some of my reading, I picked up on this summary of the issues facing enterprise computing's management of VMEs.  If you can get past the flaming, there's substance here.

ToutVirtual Enterprise Virtualization - A Proper Virtual World

...
Defining terms for a moment, an enterprise customer, for the sake of discussion is one that has more than 100 virtual servers and more than 1500 virtual instances. However, the issues to be discussed do cause real pain to customers below that level, even if someone only has 10 virtual servers and maybe 100 virtual instances, it is ugly. Virtualization was supposed to, at least in part, make management of virtual instances easier, if you listen to the sale teams, the term easy is used, not easier, which is arguably somewhat more accurate. This is misleading, because management of virtualization is complex, and creates its own set of issues. I have already discussed these issues in the past, so I will not do so now, but the short list is:
* Pre-provisioning

* Appropriate charge-back or costing

* Configuration Management

* Monitoring and Alerting

* Trending and Analysis

Anyone familiar with virtualization at a practical level, beyond a simple lab/test environment, will see these pain points as valid, and I am sure many of you will or do have more to add. However, to illustrate why, Microsoft and VMware have both missed the entire enterprise customer view of virtualization, continue reading. ...

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Thursday
Dec202007

The Missing Piece in Cloud Computing: Middleware Virtualization

This is an interesting piece about the role of middleware (the "classic" tiers and APIs) and of virtualization in attaining the real benefits of utility computing and Cloud Computing (though I'm still hardpressed to distinguish the two terms in a meaningful way). 

What caught my eye particularly is the approach they've taken at Gigaspaces to virtualization for the application container. This notion of bundling and consolidating the logic needed to enforce SLAs and simultaneously meet the requirements of the application architects is an approach for which I have great respect, and which we're employing in our efforts regarding network virtualization at Replicate Technologies.

Nati Shalom's Blog: The Missing Piece in Cloud Computing: Middleware Virtualiztion

...
In the current server-centric world we use middleware to provide common infrastructure services, such as application containers, data and messaging. To make that same model work in a cloud environment we need to virtualize all of those components. That is, we need to virtualize the container, the data and messaging. By doing so we abstract the application from the fact that it is running on a "cloud" and make the transition from a server-centric model to cloud computing relatively seamless. How do we achieve that?
...
The SLA-driven container takes an application bundle and manages the
deployment of that bundle over a set of containers based on
Service-Level Agreements. The SLAs define the clustering topology
(e.g., partitioning, size of the application pool, scalability,
fail-over policies, etc.). It is used to map the available physical
compute resources to the application needs. It is also used to provide
self-healing capabilities to our application. For example, we can set
an SLA to ensure that at any point in time we always have primary and
backup instances for each node in our environment - and that each
node's primary and backup must run on separate physical machines. In
case a primary fails, the system will dynamically set the backup as the
new primary, and will launch another backup on another machine.

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Tuesday
Dec182007

The new challenges for your network management software

Peter Williams of Bloor Research does a nice job of describing the issues facing IT's management of networks as well as the vendor's challenges in delivering the right network management systems.  The piece then goes on to be a plug for Entuity's 'Eye of the Storm' network management suite, but it's done in this context. The advertizing not withstanding, I liked the staging and premise on which it was written.

Stormy times for your networks? Time to re-assess your network...

Those who provide network fault and performance management software have been experiencing new challenges as technologies advance and new software emerges. Enterprises using network management software unchanged for only two years will be behind the curve; in fact the vendors themselves are struggling to keep up.

Think of the challenges. There is virtualisation—of the servers, storage pools and the networks—which builds in extra (hidden) layers of complexity in continually mapping the virtual to the physical. Various trends include a shift towards more server-based shared applications and content management, service-oriented architecture (SOA) and software as a service (SaaS). Conversely, there is also peer-to-peer networking, as well as converged data and voice sharing the same wire, and wireless networking for both.

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Tuesday
Dec182007

Yankee Group gets religion about Virtual Appliances from ISVs

Given the amount of web-space that's been dedicated to virtualization, soft appliances in general, and virtual appliances, this seems a bit of a let-down.  The point is, of course, that they're correct.

What few people seem to be talking about, however, is the role virtual appliances will play as the delivery mechanism of choice for network appliances.  Think about this for a bit.  I've been spending a lot of time on it lately. The results are some startlingly different ways to think about network function and the OAM&P (operation, administrative, management and provisioning) functions.

Yankee Group Says ISVs and Customers Will Reap Tremendous Benefits from Virtual Appliances : VMblog.com - Virtualization Information

As virtualization progresses and the concept gains acceptance, virtual appliances may become the predominant and only platform for ISVs. Some of the benefits of virtual appliances for ISVs and customers are:
  • Lower support costs: Supporting a myriad of customer OSs, all with different versions, patch levels, and configurations is becoming a support nightmare.
  • Better quality software: By removing the variables of customer-installed and -configured operating systems, ISVs can have complete control of their software operating environment.
  • Easy scalability: Virtual appliances can easily be moved to a faster machine.
  • Quick deployment: Virtual appliances plug into existing virtual infrastructure and come pre-installed, pre-configured and ready to start.

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